You know when someone speaks so honestly you have an instant connection to all the thoughts and feelings they conjure up inside you? I often get that feeling when listening to Frank Ocean or Lorde; or watching the work of Dave Chapelle or Ricky Gervais. No matter how it’s presented it connects instantly with me because of its pure honesty. Recently, I got that feeling when listening to Jay Griffiths talk at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Jay Griffiths spoke of the importance of play, freedom, being outdoors, and having time to daydream and be creative. She discussed how children growing up today in Euro-American cultures do not typically engage in this imaginative play and the unhappiness we are now seeing in young children.
Those for stats, Griffiths said that in 2007, in a UNICEF report, “Britain ranked the lowest of 21 industrialized nations for childhood wellbeing, and children are telling us their unhappiness, in every language they know, from depression to self-harm.”
In his popular TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson also spoke fascinatingly about how creativity should be valued as highly as literacy; and how all children are born geniuses but these skills are gradually ‘unlearnt’ during traditional schooling.
I think this provides incredible food for thought as we look to raise future generations as well as nurture our own lives. Surely, we can’t have all the creativity and curiosity beaten out of us? This is what makes us thrive in life.
One of the most distinct points Griffiths made at the Writers Festival was that, “Daydreams can occupy a third of our waking state. Children need wild, unlimited hours, though many are diarised into wall to wall activities. They’re scheduled from the moment they wake up, to the moment they go to sleep, every hour accounted for...” and then quotes Dr. Schoolem, “For creativity, we need our minds to wander”
Listening to Jay makes me want to do more childlike things. On the upside, I listen, dance and daydream to music on a daily basis, and being in nature is always a choice - if I’m not living near nature, I travel to it regularly. Yet in many ways I’ve always wanted to live a more childlike life but have felt a sense of embarrassment because I’m not “acting my age”.
No, I’m not talking about a life void of responsibilities here; I’m talking about watching Ninja Turtles and also attending talks about Health at fancy Harvard University. I’m talking about listening to the Aladdin Soundtrack, singing it at the top of my lungs and then turning to Beethoven when I'm in a more reflective mood. I’m talking about making gifts for my friends using all the cool materials I played with as a wee lass (awesome and far more memorable), rather than just getting a standard card at the newsagent (boring, unthoughtful, careless adult stuff).
I’ve posted my recording of Jay’s talk at the Melbourne Writers Festival for you to listen to. Although she is talking about children, I think there’s something for all of us to take away from it, whether we have children or not. We can all unlock our inner child; the person inside us that is creative, honest and seeks happiness.
Happy Monday! And if you want to share your experiences or opinions on this topic please drop me a note below...